Someone once said that ‘expectations are planned disappointments.’ In other words, it’s best not to expect anything because surely you’ll be disappointed. My brother-in-law, on the other hand, said he preferred to be surprised by life so he never expressed any expectations. Can’t say that for me. I have expectations all the time, though not all of them are realized.
Recently, however, I learned that asking others, especially my husband and family members what their expectations are––of a day together, a vacation, a purchase for the house, a dinner party for friends, decorating a room or planting a garden––can do wonders for one’s relationships. Instead of feeling overlooked, ignored, hurt, and just plain ticked off, you and the other can talk over what you expect and hope for and then figure things out together.
For example, last week we invited one of my husband’s friends for dinner. I asked Charles how he’d like it to be.
Eating outdoors if the warm weather held (it did).
Serving tomato bisque soup for a starter (I did).
Sharing a bottle of blood orange soda (we did).
When it was my turn to share my expectations I listed the following:
Roasted chicken (from the supermarket) for the entree (we agreed).
Sauteed zucchini, red pepper, sliced onions, and brown rice (a compromise since my husband does not like veggies).
Fresh berries topped with plain yogurt and a dollop of maple syrup for dessert instead of a cake or pie (a compromise since I no longer bake or eat such).
We shopped together. Charles set the table outside. We served together. I cleaned up the kitchen.
Ah! Expectations. So easy to meet or compromise when they are expressed. I think we’re onto something after 30+ years of marriage.
How about you? Do you talk over expectations with your loved ones?